PRESTWICH Heys assistant manager Ian Hutchinson believes his non-league side have all the right attributes to one day be challenging for top honours against Football League opponents.

The Adie Moran Park outfit continued their unbeaten start to the FBT Manchester League campaign with a 4-0 win against lowly Boothstown to move six points clear of nearest rivals Hindsford at the top of the Premier Division.

And after watching former Heys centre-back Steve Howson help Salford City conquer League Two side Notts County in the first round of the FA Cup on Friday, Hutchinson believes the infrastructure at the club means they are not too far away from following in the Evo-Stik League outfit’s footsteps.

“It’s fantastic. It gives us confidence when you see that it can be done,” he told The Guide.

“A lot of the lads know players at Salford and obviously Howson played here so there are a lot of connections.

“There are people working hard off the pitch to get everything right with regards to pitch specifications to make sure we are geared towards progression.

“It’s refreshing and pleasing to see two non-league clubs into the second round of the FA Cup.

“It just goes to show the quality there is in non-league now. The gap for lower league clubs and the level and calibre of where Salford are is not that big, and it’s something we aspire too.”

Despite helping themselves to four goals against second-from-bottom Boothstown, Hutchinson wants Heys, who have the best defensive record in the league, to be more clinical in front of goal.

“We kept our third successive clean sheet and it’s another good three points under our belts,” he said. “But we only played in patches. We had 10 or 15 chances and we need to be more clinical.

“Missing that many opportunities will cost us in the bigger games where we don’t get as many chances.”

Heys made a number of changes to their starting line-up with Jon Stephenson playing up front in place of the ill Jamie Baguley. Lewis Smith kept his shirt at centre-back after deputising well for the suspended John Blackley last week, while Paul Tierney played at left-back in place of George Powell.

And Stephenson took full advantage of a rare first-team opportunity by scoring a brace with Dalton McLaughlin and Tierney also on the scoresheet.

“You look across the squad and it’s nice to be able to change things around a bit,” said Hutchinson.

“Jon is a man in form. He’s made two starts and scored three goals so he’s doing the job when he is asked to do it.

“Last season Paul (Tierney) played wide left, left midfield or up front but when our usual left-back George (Powell) went on holiday we put Tierney back there because we didn’t have cover.

“For the past four or five games he’s been so consistent and will play wherever you put him. We put him back up front with about 20 minutes remaining on Saturday and he’s ended up scoring the final goal.”

Heys host promotion rivals AFC Monton on Saturday before a trip to second-placed Hindsford in a fortnight’s time. “We know they are going to be tougher tests but we’ve got to go into these games with the same attitude and hopefully come out on top.”